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The University of Southampton

Research project: Hayden: Surface Science Model Heterogeneous Catalysis

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Metals supported on oxide surfaces encompass an important class of reactive interface, particularly in heterogeneous catalysis.

These catalytically active surfaces are being modelled using metals, deposited by metal vapour deposition (MVD) or metal organic compound vapour deposition (MOCVD), on single crystal oxide surfaces. Adsorption and reaction of gases on these surfaces is being investigated in a number of vacuum systems using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), reflection absorption IR spectroscopy (FT-RAIRS), and STM. Of particular interest has been the effect of temperature and gas environment on the dispersion and morphology of transition metals on titania, and how this effects surface reactivity. The combination of the spectroscopic with the structural technique allow a correlation of the chemical environment with the surface structure and local geometry, and the identification of surface intermediates

The dynamics and kinetics of reactions of surfaces - are under investigation using both supersonic molecular beams. In the same way that cross molecular beam experiments probe the intermolecular potential energy surfaces between two reacting molecules through the dynamics of the scattering event, molecules scattered from the surfaces of solids probe the potential energy experienced by a molecule as it approaches a surface. Of particular interest is the measurement of the activation barriers to dissociation or reaction, and whether energy partitioned within degrees of freedom of the impinging molecule (translation, rotation, vibration), or energy derived from the surface through accommodation of the reactant is effective in overcoming the activation barrier. STM allows the study of the reactions at the surface itself. It reveals mechanistic and kinetic information since its intrinsic atomic resolution allows snapshots of the adsorption site, and the rearangement of surface atoms induced by adsorption and reaction.

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